Preparing the Yard, Plants, Bushes and Trees for Fall and Winter

The onset of winter can be a dreary time for those already anticipating the warm spring months ahead. There are tasks that can be tackled around the yard, in flowerbeds, and in the garden to help prepare for winter and give stir-crazy gardeners and outdoor enthusiasts something to do.

Remove Debris

Before winter arrives, remove rocks, sticks, leaves, trash, and other debris from flowerbeds as well as the lawn. Throughout fall and winter, periodically check the yard and flowerbeds for additional trash and debris. This will keep the yard and flowerbeds as attractive as possible during the fall and winter months and will lessen the amount of necessary yard work when spring arrives.

Protect Sensitive Plants and Shrubs

It is necessary to protect certain bushes and plants against cold winter weather. Strawberries, roses, and azaleas are a few of the plants that require winter protection. Make sure plants and bushes requiring winter protection are sufficiently covered before the first hard frost.

Strawberry plants can be covered with protective layers of straw, tarpaulins, or sheets of gardening fabric. If gardening fabric or tarps are used to cover strawberry plants, they should be held down with heavy rocks or bricks. Stakes can also be used to hold lightweight protective materials in place.

Roses and azaleas requiring winter protection should be covered with foam or plastic covers designed especially for plants and small bushes. Cardboard is helpful for early frost protection, but is insufficient for long-term use. Protective covers can also be held firmly in place with stakes, bricks, or heavy rocks.

The Value of Mulch

Before the onset of fall and winter, consider putting mulch around bushes, trees, and perennial plants. Mulch is a natural product that is as decorative as it is beneficial, and it helps the roots of bushes, trees, and plants retain all-important moisture. Mulch also promotes and maintains healthy roots by helping the soil remain at a steady temperature. During spring, fall, and summer months, mulch helps keep weeds at bay.

For mulch to be as beneficial as possible, it should be applied at a minimum depth of three to four inches. Try to keep mulch a few inches away from the trunks of bushes and trees in the prevention of decay caused by moisture.

Late Fall and Winter Pruning

After bushes and trees have gone dormant, it’s a great time for trimming and pruning. This is because in the cold of late fall and winter, trees and bushes go dormant, and diseases are less likely to be spread.

Bushes that bloom in the spring should not be pruned in the fall and winter. The buds that will open in spring are already formed and could be inadvertantly removed.

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